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State inspectors halt Peninsula surgeries

The state Health Department ordered Peninsula Hospital to close down much of its operations and transfer its patients after inspectors found numerous problems with its clinical lab.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The state Department of Health ordered Peninsula Hospital to stop admitting patients and cancel all upcoming surgeries after inspectors last week issued a report on alarming discoveries found in a crucial laboratory at the Far Rockaway facility.

The department’s inspection focused on the clinical lab, which is where blood tests and cultures are performed and is essential to many of the services the hospital performs.

A court order signed by state Health Department Commissioner Nirav Shah listed several observations that inspectors found in the lab.

For instance, three units of expired plasma were identified in the blood bank freezer, according to the report. Tissue used for transplants is also stored in a freezer in the blood bank, but the temperature inside had not been monitored for two years, according to the report.

In another instance, inspectors found the hospital was not monitoring air quality in a section of the lab, which is essential to ensure the staff is not exposed to infectious organisms, according to the report.

On Jan. 1, 2010, an individual was found to be working alone in the blood bank after receiving just two days of training, the report said. The employee had to call her friend on a cell phone to get assistance on performing tests, which she did not perform correctly, according to the report.

As a result of the observations, the state issued the order last Thursday afternoon. By Friday morning, the hospital had transferred a majority of patients to nearby medical facilities and their family members notified, according to Liz Sulik, a spokeswoman for the hospital.

Other portions of the 173-bed hospital that do not rely on the clinical lab, including the radiology unit and family health center, continued to operate, she said.

Once the hospital brings the lab up to snuff, Sulik said patients can return.

“As the hospital complies with the DOH’s directive, it is expeditiously developing a plan to remedy the laboratory deficiencies and hopes to restore full services as soon as possible,” she said.

Peninsula Hospital, operated by the MediSys Health Network until last summer, was rumored to be closing last year after it racked up $13 million in debt, according to elected officials in the area.

It is currently involved in an ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, according to court documents.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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